Boothby’s Ten Commandments: VI. Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.


As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.


VI. Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.

Boy, this is a complicated one.

First, a few points.

As dealers in delicious alcoholic beverages, most bartenders, as a sort of career responsibility, do have a fine appreciation for booze.

From a management, loss prevention, perspective, the Boothby quote is entirely intuitive.

The more booze you sell, and the less your staff drinks, the better your bottom line.

On the other hand, there is a certain psychic toll to bartending.

Most people cannot maintain the appearance of liking everyone they talk to without a cost.

It isn’t possible. Different people handle it differently, but for many, a little alcoholic lubrication isn’t a bad idea.

Not to mention, as a manager, if you are too much of a stickler about booze consumption, your staff will just sneak and steal.

On the other hand, a drunk or surly bartender is never appealing to the guest.

Maybe there are some semi-psychic individuals who can appear perfectly sober, manage money, and the patrons in their venues while three sheets to the wind.  I’m not one of them, or, more accurately, not comfortable with going down that path.

Then there are the other personal issues.

Sadly, or happily, I am a light weight in several senses. First, I’m pretty darn skinny with almost no appreciable body fat, giving me a pathetic tolerance to almost any volume of alcoholic beverage.  Second, my body is not particularly fantastic at processing alcoholic beverages back into non-intoxicating substances.

What does all that mean?

While some of my compatriots may be able to imbibe while retaining their composure, I cannot. If I am to appear a professional of any sort, I cannot drink (much) while working.  Important to recognize your limitations, I think.